An unprecedented school year in Litchfield is set to begin Aug. 28 with about 900 students in grades pre-K through 12 and a new superintendent of schools.
Christopher Leone, the superintendent of schools in Region 6, is in the second month of handling the duties of overseeing Litchfield’s schools in an arrangement forged by the boards of education of each district.
Leone, in meetings last week with the Litchfield board’s long-range planning committee, facilities and technology committee, and finance committee, made it clear that he is in charge and has a strong vision for the town’s schools.
After observing the meetings, Board of Finance Chairman Bill Burgess said Leone is exactly what Litchfield needs.
“What you see happening should be happening, and it’s because we now have a strong leader who is doing all the right things,” Burgess said. “He’s breaking down the wall that has existed between the school board and the town. As a leader, he gets it.”
The school board, according to Burgess and other town officials, hasn’t been transparent enough on matters involving finance and employee health insurance. With Leone at the helm of the schools, that is going to change, Burgess believes.
Leone informed the finance committee that the school board’s budget of $18,993,530 for 2018-19 ended with a surplus of $55,844, an amount that will be turned over to the town and deposited into fund balance, or the town’s rainy day fund.
In the meeting of the school board’s long-range planning committee, Leone issued a series of goals that include a zero-percent budget increase for 2020-21, development of school improvement plans for the town’s four schools by Nov. 15, online publication of curriculum by June 1, 2020, and a review of all job descriptions by June 30, 2020. In time for the school year of 2020-21, Leone plans to create a shared central office for Litchfield and Region 6.
Having Leone in the shared position is expected to lead to a more efficient use of resources that will produce savings and provide students will more educational opportunities.
As of last week, the projected student enrollment for the first day of classes in Litchfield was 901, according to Leone.